More than 1.1 million children in Kenya are pushed into labour by their family or their community, a report by international aid organisation CESVI said Thursday.
"Child labour is part of the family existing conditions rather than an external issue out of their reach," Christine Otieno from the Ministry of Labour said at the launch. "The findings raise concern over the rights awareness of the working children and their communities," she added.
According to the report, workers under 18 spend on average more than four hours each day working for less than a dollar, be they sex workers, farm hands or quarry workers in the booming real estate industry.
"Half of the children involved in child labour believe that they contribute between 20% and 50% of their family's total monthly income," Diego Ottolini, project coordinator at CESVI told AFP.
There are cases in which the child provides 100% of the family's budget.
"Cases in which a child is left to care for invalid parents or is orphaned at a young age were also reported," said Aloys Opiyo of African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN).
"These are the most challenging to deal with since if one takes the child out of employment, the dependents are left without options," he added.
The study, conducted in the two parts of the country where child labour is most widespread, the western Nyanza province and the capital Nairobi, looked at more than 7,500 children in menial or particularly tough jobs.
"In the last decade, child labour has received inadequate attention from all concerned," Marco de Milato of CEFA, another organisation involved in the study, said.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) 2010 report observes that some 215 million children worldwide work in paid employment, with just over half that number in hazardous jobs.
And yet, the ILO said, one nation out of every three has yet to even define what constitutes hazardous work. Some nations have no minimum age for such work, and still more lack the means to monitor the bans they do have in place.
In Kenya, out of every four children working, one has been trafficked by strangers and the other three sent to work by people known to them, CESVI said.